MINISTER for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing says that investor confidence in Singapore remains strong due to its open economy, infrastructure and stability, and this will enable the country to ride through uncertain times.
In his national broadcast on Sunday, he said that is why in the first four months of this year, the Economic Development Board has already captured S$13 billion of investment commitments from companies such as ExxonMobil, Micron, and ST Microelectronics, while some companies continue to hire and grow their businesses, such as Innosparks, Secretlab, and Shopee.
Speaking at the PSA terminal, which he described as “the heart of our trade connections to the world”, he said that even though the outlook for the next few years is uncertain – with many Singaporeans having lost their jobs, and more job losses expected in the coming months while others have seen pay cuts – investors remain confident to base their new projects in Singapore.
For example, Hyundai will be setting up its Mobility Global Innovation Centre, a next-generation innovation and manufacturing platform to make electric vehicles, in Jurong. He added that local companies, too, are actively transforming their businesses and upskilling their workforce.
Investor confidence is strong because of the intangible strengths that Singapore has built up over the years, he said. Investors have chosen to site and expand their businesses here because of the city-state’s connectedness with the world, as well as its stable society and skilled workforce.
As Covid-19 has caused many countries to retreat from globalisation and erect more protectionist barriers, Singapore must resist these pressures, he said. “A less connected world means a poorer world and fewer opportunities for all. A less connected Singapore means fewer and poorer quality jobs for us.
“Even in a more protectionist, less connected world, we can still make a living and more. We can build capabilities to play critical roles in global supply chains to produce high quality products and services that others value.”
He said that Singapore currently makes four of the world’s top 10 drugs, and is the world’s seventh largest exporter of chemicals. Its resilience comes from its networks and diversification of supply sources and markets.
For instance, when Covid-19 first disrupted supply chains, the networks of public and private sectors here enabled the country to open new supply lines to bring back essentials such as masks, personal protective equipment, and test reagents from across the world.
He said that Singapore also enjoys trust from the global community, because throughout the crisis, it did not impose export restrictions or nationalise foreign investments. Instead, it kept its production lines open for global supply chains, including critical materials for surgical masks. It worked with companies to increase their production to meet Singapore’s and the world’s needs, and facilitated the continued flow of essential goods and people through its ports and airports. Trust will count for more in uncertain times, he added. “Businesses have noticed. When they make their next investments to diversify their global production bases, we will be in the running.”
Mr Chan said the government is also building a network of digital economy partnerships that will help local firms grow their overseas markets. Coupled with the anticipated signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement this year, this is expected to lower the cost of imports for consumers and exports for producers, and make Singapore a more attractive base for investments.
At the same time, Singapore will also focus on building the next generation of infrastructure to reinforce its position as a choice hub for business, finance, trade and data flows. Long-term plans for projects such as Changi T5, Tuas Mega Port, and submarine cable hubs remain.
On the jobs side, Singapore will create 100,000 jobs and training opportunities in the coming year – thrice its usual annual number – in sectors such as healthcare, early childhood education, transport, information and communications technology and financial services. The government is also building a thousand-strong Digital Ambassador Corps to help small and micro enterprises apply digitalisation.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry reported 407 new Covid-19 cases, taking the country’s total number of infections to 40,604. The new cases include nine in the community – four are Singaporeans, one is a work pass holder and four are work permit holders.